[Review] You Wouldn’t Understand (Screamfest): A Pastoral Picnic Becomes a Bizarre Situation in This Sci-Fi Comedy Short

A superb example of how to take a relatable feeling of tranquility and launch it into a surreal science fiction scenario, director Trish Harnetiaux’s short film You Wouldn’t Understand is a delightful, gorgeous-looking journey into the absurd.

A man (Anthony Arkin, who also performed editing duties) is enjoying a relaxing solo picnic and reading a book when he spies two people running in a field near him. The two disappear behind a hedge, and then one (Jacob A. Ware, who cowrote the screenplay with Harnetiaux) emerges, walking toward the man. The picnicking man — along with viewers — are wary of the situation.

The stranger, dressed in white, asks for a bottle of “horsey sauce” (which may or may not be the horseradish the picnicker happens to have) and then his manner of speech, statements, and actions get progressively weirder. I don’t want to give too much away here, so suffice it to say that the two men become involved in a classic science-fiction scenario, with a fresh, funny approach.

Arkin is great as the confused, bemused man who merely wanted to enjoy an afternoon outdoors to himself. His reactions to the stranger and his facial expressions are wonderful. Ware is also terrific as the stranger, who seems a little off with his exaggerated facial expressions and eagerness to talk. 

Harnetiaux’s direction is super, using a wide range of shots, from beautiful wide and long shots of the idyllic setting to close-ups of the two men that help add to the nuttiness of the situation. All of these shots are captured splendidly by cinematographer John Gebhart.

The title fits viewers’ likely feelings to a certain degree because not everything is explained, but I prefer this short-and-sweet approach to a certain science fiction subgenre (no, I won’t give it away) to its often more convoluted entries, be they short-length or feature films — plus You Wouldn’t Understand adds the welcome element of comic insanity.

You Wouldn’t Understand screened as part of Screamfest, which ran from October 6–15.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.